A Daughter Who Loves Photography

Eve Street Shot

Perhaps the most special event of this holiday occurred on Christmas Eve. It was the first day I was well enough to travel downtown, so we took the kids down to the Strand where there is a used camera shop. My daughter Eve has always liked photography and has “documented” our sailing adventures, so we signed her up for an after-school photography class. Surprisingly, the class required a 35mm camera, so the kids could do B&W work. No digital.

My Nikon N200 was abandoned in the US– its shutter being bad for years. There was a professional photographer in the shop picking up a repaired lens, and he thought it was the coolest thing that we were buying a used SLR film camera for Eve. He really got into helping us pick the best model in the case. So we bought Eve a used Canon EOS 1000 setup for about 70 quid, completed with two rolls of 400 speed B&W and a 200 ASA color roll. We immediately began to shoot.

For her first online gallery, see


(The shots of her were either by me or her brother Doug.) So far, I’m impressed by her natural framing ideas, and the ease displayed by her subjects. The Canon is a big SLR, but light, and it’s amazing to watch her manually focus and compose with the zoom ring. I hope to share more of her work as she advances. Interesting work, for an eight year-old.

Eve Underground Shot

A Pleasant Christmas

We’re relaxing this afternoon after Christmas morning. My son is flying a small RC helicopter around the flat, and trying out the eeePC. He also got the 1 gig jumpdrive he requested. My daughter just registered her new Webkinz pet into its virtual world, and added some holiday furniture to its virtual residence. Good clothes were received by all, and I have a nice, tiny 120 gb usb drive to use for backups.

There were more traditional gifts as well– sewing gear requested by my daughter, a wood Roman crossbow my son has already built (and shot me with). A model car to be built, a scooter for my daughter, several books both kids wanted, art supplies, and crackers, of course. The main gifts between Steph and I were the 13 week evening sailing courses and week-long cruises with the British Offshore sailing school in May and June.

We made some “thank you” videos on the eeePC, but I’ve been too lazy to track down a way to convert the OGG files to something more cross-platform before emailing them off. Steph is prepping the Christmas ham, and this evening we plan to watch the “African Queen” together for fun. It was pouring rain outside today, but we still hiked to West End Green and then back to Hampstead High Street, where the Starbucks was open so we read there for an hour and enjoyed the holiday music.

Tomorrow, Boxing Day! :)

Explore, Conquer and Exceed

I’ve been planning a presentation that I hope to do next year. It’s about the differences between LS, MS and US divisions, and how each could need an entirely different technology program even when they are in the same building. In sum, I see the following divisional objectives:

Lower School:
Explore and Discover

Middle School: Unite and Conquer

High School: Choose to Excel

One could argue that any of the three are the most important, but my sense is that they have the most impact when they build on each other in a progressive manner.

In the Lower School, kids use computers for the first time in an academic manner. They may have used them for years for recreation, or not, but a good LS program should enable students to explore academic uses of computers and discover new ways of finding, processing and sharing information. This can lay a foundation of positive achievements with computers, in a balanced way.

The Middle School has been characterized for years as the best division for a 1:1 laptop program, and in many cases that can be true. It’s the last time a school with have the students in true grade-level groups, complete with homerooms teachers and solid grade-level teams. It’s the last time having all the kids on the same computer doing the same thing at roughly the same time makes uniform sense, and the students are old enough to master core competencies of academic computing (typing, research, Office, images, online communications) in a unified manner. There can be stand-out activities and choices, but the all students should reach a solid plateau of experiences and competence by the end of eighth grade.

The LS/MS foundation is what the High School builds upon. The routine uses of academic technology continue, but the focus becomes more vertical than horizontal. As students move through high school, they make more choices about their subjects and interests, and invest more time into some than others. Their technology use should follow. Some may “go vertical” with computers in math or science, or others with art or music, and others with video or programming, but students make the choices. Additionally, the faculty may not assign all the students in the class to do a technology-enhanced project, but that should be an option for students to choose (and be accurately assessed accordingly).

The goal in the High School is exceptional uses of technology that go well beyond the plateau of the Middle School. This is no different than any other K12 department– who ever heard of a math or science program that was “fine” with students never going beyond what they learned in Middle School? For this to work, however, requires some discussion, thought and planning from a true K12 perspective. It may also need digital portfolios, and an acknowledgement that some students independently use technology in ways well beyond the school’s curriculum. Bringing this all onto the table could lead to some really healthy discussions.

Happy holidays, everyone!

An Awakening Experience

It’s funny, but when I woke up a week ago (last Sunday), I had no idea I’d be riding an ambulance to the hospital. I’ve never had to do that before.

Basically, it was a rather painful kidney stone type of adventure that put me in the hospital for a day on Sunday. All the tests were clear, so I went home Sunday night only to return at 2:30 a.m. with similar pains (second time in a cab). Then I spent Monday there having more tests done and then being kicked out again Monday night.

The advice was to lay low for a couple of days and not go to work, but that didn’t seem like an option having missed 4 of 5 days last week to the Barcelona trip. Also, there were only 2.5 days left before the long break.

So, I went to work, and within 24 hours had a mind-blowing cold and flu thing set in. I toughed it out for the last half day Thursday, and yesterday at home I was so gone that I thankfully can’t remember much of the day.

Ugh. So I’m beginning to recover today and thinking about the future. There’s always going to be a matrix of needs and objectives and inconsistencies and risks at work, but they can be channeled and improved over time. If anything, the loss of anyone for a week shouldn’t create a serious issue.

It also dawns on me that Christmas is a few days away. This year more than ever it seems like I’ve been out of the loop on this holiday, but maybe things will improve here in a day or two, and we can spend a night or two on the South Coast and look at a sailboat or two. One has to keep priorities in order, right? :)

Sailing Plans

The kids and I had a great time at the Earls Court Boatshow in downtown London last weekend. In fact, the exhibition center was just a few steps from an Underground Station.

This totally indoor show was lightly attended, but I liked the atmosphere and emphasis on sailboats over powerboats. I guess the story is that the big London Boat show used to be held in this location, but was moved to a larger space in the Docklands (Excel Center) part of London. It’s taking place next month, but this year they brought back the Earls Court show as well.

Highlights? There was a big indoor pool with a couple dozen boats in it, including Gipsy Moth IV, Hanse, Gemini and others. My kids got to scuba dive for the first time (for free) with an instructor. We saw James May’s classic sailing convertible car from the TopGear TV show. We checked out a new Hans Christian 41 T. We saw a range of restored classic wood racing sailboats. We saw a display of wrecked but recovered boats, and read their stories. We saw classic wooden boats being made. We walked through a restored long boat for the first time.

One thing we learned years ago is that boat shows are good for discounts on sailing classes and cruises. This boat show was no exception, so we pretty much planned our 2008 sailing year and pulled the trigger on reservations and payments.

In January, both my wife and I start our RYA Dayskipper Theory courses. Thirteen Monday nights in a row for me to complete the coursework. My wife goes on Wednesday night. The courses are 6 to 10 p.m. in offices in downtown London with On Deck Sailing.

In April, I’ll finish up my RYA 2 certification with a weekend on the Solent with BOSS.

In May, my wife does a seven day cruise across the channel to the Channel Islands and back, and finishes her Dayskipper Certification with BOSS. (Our kids do their Optimist classes at [URL=”http://www.wembleysailingclub.co.uk/”]Welsh Harp[/URL].)

In June, I do a seven day cruise across the channel to Normandy and back, finishing my Dayskipper Cert. with BOSS.

In July, we’re back in the US, and I have a three night cruise on the Columbia River planned with my brother on our Cal 20.

Overall, we had a great time. Here’s a photo gallery from the trip:


Eve Diving

Going All To The Web

After seeing so many SIS presentations now, I’m left with one question the ponder: what does it mean to go fully to the web for major services?

On the downside, you are dependent on your Internet connection for reliable operations, and speed could be an issue if the server or cluster running your system isn’t up to snuff. There will be interface limitations with everything done through a browser. There could be more security risks if usernames and passwords are lost or shared (since any browser will access the content, instead of needed a specific client). If fully hosted, mistakes with upgrades or services would be out of your hands.

On the plus side, the system could be fully cross-platform and fully mobile (accessible from any internet connection at home, other schools, other locations). Home-owned computers can more easily be used for school work, and the imaging process for school computers is simplified. If the system is fully hosted, then there’s one less server and storage solution to handle. In a disaster recovery situation, the system would be fully operational independent of the existence of the school building. A carefully designed system could improve the independence of offices and groups in their use of the system.

These are all issues to consider. Some issues may have answers (such as OBDC connections carrying a fair chuck of data to a local server so that a “degraded system” is operational if connections to the hosted service are severed). It may also be that the loss in some functionality may be worth the gain in other areas for a broader user base (both in terms of sharing informaiton via web portals, and contributing users of the system).

Lots to think about, again.

Off to Barcelona

I’m on a visiting accreditation team to a school in Barcelona next week, and I’m looking forward to the trip and experience.

Meanwhile, I feel that we’ve made some good progress this week on several fronts: Moodle consulting, IT consulting, and even Student Information Systems. Even little things are moving ahead, like a wireless presenter for the new theater, web cams for video Skype sessions, and other odds and ends.

To end it, I had a great ride home tonight on the bike– dark, strong winds but a nice home coming. Now to read some materials for the next week.

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